Protesters fear Islamist party will stifle women's rights


A protestor holding a placard reading in French 'Yes to Islam - No to corruption' take part with about 100 Tunisians in a protest on October 25, 2011 outside the headquarters of the independent electoral body against 'fraud' they claimed had marred the country's first-ever democratic vote. The protesters called for a probe into the finances of some parties, including Ennahda, which is widely suspected of being propped up by Gulf countries despite a ban on foreign funding for parties contesting the election.



The highly celebrated democratic elections in Tunisia quickly shifted to angst for many of the country's women and liberals after an Islamist party won the vote–prompting protests.

Those unhappy with Ennahda’s win in the Sunday vote fear the Islamist party might roll back modern policies in one of the most liberal countries in the Arab region, the BBC reports. The first-ever democratic elections was the culmination of months of political protests that created a domino-effect of similar civil unrest in the Arab world.

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Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi tried to quell the violent protests with reassurance.

“Ennahda reaffirms its commitment to the women of Tunisia, to strengthen their role in political decision-making, in order to avoid any going back on their social gains,” Ghannouchi said at a press conference.

Party executive member Nourreddine Bhiri said the Ennahda respect the rights of women and all Tunisians regardless of religion, gender and social status, the AFP reports.

Protesters say, however, the party’s moderate tone is only for public show.

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 "The statements of the Ennahda leaders seeking to assure us of their commitment to respecting women's rights have not convinced us," public servant Faouzia Hamila told AFP.

The Code of Personal Status, a series of progressive laws that started in 1956, abolished polygamy, reformed marriage laws, and gave women more political and social rights.

Ennahda won 90 seats in the 217-member parliament. BBC correspondents report the two nearest rivals–both left-wing secularist parties– are in coalition talks with the Islamist party since they did win the majority.

More than 20 percent of the seats occupied in Tunisia’s legislative branch is made up of women, surpassing the 17 percent of women represented in the 111th U.S. Congress.

In Politics.

Tagged: AfricaMiddle East.